Philippines - June is annually observed as 'No Smoking' Month.

June 27, 2009 - Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) together with the Central Philippine Union Mission (CPUM) of the Seventh Day Adventist are conducting an advocacy campaign tour on anti-smoking to solicit the support of the local government units in making their areas of jurisdiction a free-smoking zone.

Though the country has drafted the Anti-Smoking Law in 1998 which mandates private establishments like restaurants to designate a free-smoking area, Dr. Judita Tawatao, the regional coordinator on non-communicable disease program of the Dept. of Health (DOH-7) said such move poses more danger to non-smokers as second-hand smoke is even more fatal compared to first-hand smoke or the smokers themselves.

Smokers are at a high risk of developing heart diseases like hypertension and are likely to suffer more from heart attack and stroke. Smoking also contributes to cancer of the lungs, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as bronchitis and diabetes, this is learned.

Seven out of 10 Filipinos die of non-communicable diseases like heart disorders, cancer and respiratory problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) while the common risk factor to these diseases is smoking, according to Tawatao.

Tawatao admitted that it would be hard to lobby for a smoke-free Philippines as most legislators themselves are smokers and no doubt would oppose such move. "That is why we are slowly introducing the no-smoke campaign concept to the local government units first," Tawatao said.

It is a tall order to be able to convince the mayors of every town and city to make their place a smoke-free zone through drafting legal measures or ordinances but "if Davao City and Makati City can do it, why not here?" Tawatao further said.

Tobacco control is one of the three major components of the Healthy Lifestyle Program of the DOH apart from regular exercise and proper diet.

But in order to dissuade the youths from smoking, parents themselves must also quit smoking and serve as a role model to their children, Tawatao ended. (PIA-Cebu/FCR)

In the Philippines, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reports that ten Filipinos die every hour due to smoking. Furthermore, 35 percent of the general population are smokers, of which 60 percent are males, 9 percent are women, 15 percent of whom are young girls in their teens. Also, five out of the ten causes of death in our country can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Hence, we commend the efforts of anti-smoking advocates who are trying to reduce smoking and its casualties in the country. We commend the examples set by the following leaders in successfully banning smoking within buildings and public places under their jurisdiction — GSIS PGM Winston Garcia, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, Taguig City Mayor Freddie Tinga, Marikina City Mayor Marides Fernando, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn. We hope that other city officials will follow suit for the sake of their constituents and the Filipino public in general. Moreover, “no smoking” posters should be mounted in major crowded public areas here, similar to the practice in major cities in the United States. And, most important of all, Filipinos should learn to follow the signs and regulations when they see them.

References: DOH-7 appeals to parents not to allow their children to light cigarettesPIA Daily News, 6/17/209; June is national No Smoking Month
ROSES & THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces, Philipine Star, 6/27/2009.